Healthy communities rely on well-functioning ecosystems with rich biological resources. Such ecosystems provide clean air, fresh water, medicine and food security, and also limit disease and stabilize the climate. However, according to the new state of knowledge review Connecting Global Priorities: Biodiversity and Human Health published by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the World Health Organization (WHO), biodiversity loss is occurring at unprecedented rates, impacting human health worldwide.
This landmark publication succinctly yet comprehensively reviews available literature to capture the threats to human health and wellbeing posed by loss of biodiversity and functioning ecosystems. Impacts on air and water quality, climate change, and food and nutritional security are some of the topics covered in the review, highlighting the underlying drivers of resource depletion (including medicinal, cultural and other provisional resources) and consequent health effects. Using case studies, the publication also addresses the challenges and opportunities in integrating various systems of medicine to provide healthcare to different sections of society.
UNU-IAS researchers Suneetha Subramanian and Unnikrishnan Payyappallimana contributed to a chapter on traditional medicine as coordinating lead authors, as did Anthony Capon and his team at UNU International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH) to a chapter on climate change. Representatives of the Biodiversity and Community Health Initiative, a UNU-IAS led partnership of organizations working on health security and biodiversity conservation at the local level, also contributed to various chapters.
This review is expected to be the forerunner of more in-depth studies on specific components of biodiversity and health linkages.